Philippines confirms 4 new COVID-19 cases, bringing total to 10

March 9 ------ The Philippines has confirmed four new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Sunday, bringing the total in the country to 10. According to the Department of Health in a statement, samples from all the new confirmed cases were tested on March 7, and results were released on Sunday, March 8. The DOH also provided descriptions of the four new cases:

The 7th case (PH7) is a 38-year-old Taiwanese male. The patient has a history of contact with a Taiwanese foreign national who visited the Philippines and tested positive for COVID-19 in Taiwan. The patient has no history of travel outside of the country and his symptoms started last March 3. He is currently admitted to a private hospital.

The 8th case (PH8) is a 32-year-old Filipino male with history of travel to Japan within the past 14 days. Onset of symptoms began on March 5 and the patient is currently admitted to a private hospital.

The 9th case (PH9) is an 86-year-old American male with pre-existing hypertension and history of travel to USA and South Korea. Symptoms began on 1 March 2020 and the patient is currently admitted to a private hospital.

The 10th case (PH10) is a 57-year-old Filipino male with no history of travel outside of the country. He was reported to have had contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case, however, DOH is currently investigating details of his exposure. The patient is currently admitted to a private hospital.

The statement did not provide details on the new cases' areas of residence or locations visited. However, DOH said it is "in coordination with concerned Local Government Units and the Centers for Health Development for localized response and implementation of infection prevention and control measures." In the statement, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that the department has been preparing for cases of localized transmission of the disease.

"Now that there are confirmed cases of localized transmission, DOH and the Inter-agency Task Force are now implementing pre-planned measures to respond to the situation. Upon confirmation of new cases, we immediately deployed additional surveillance teams and commenced contact tracing," he said. The DOH is also urging people with fever and/or respiratory symptoms with history of travel and exposure to call the department's hotline at (02) 8-651-7800 local 1149-1150. "I call on the public to continue to be vigilant and practice personal preventive measures such as proper hand hygiene, social distancing, and cough etiquette. In the meantime, let us refrain from visiting public places and/or attending mass gatherings," Duque said.

"I am calling for your cooperation in this trying time. Only through concerted effort at the community level will we be able to succeed against the threat of the disease," he added. Classes for Monday have been suspended in several places as a precaution against the virus. The new coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan, China late last year, with the epicenter suspected to have been a seafood market in the city.

There are currently more than 106,000 confirmed cases around the world, with at least 3,600 dead. Most of the infections and deaths are in China, which has reported 80,695 cases and 3,097 fatalities so far.